Good day. Here are the stories for The Manila Times for Friday, January 28, 2021.

BANNER: AstraZeneca vaccine approved for rollout

The Philippine Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has given Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to British-Swedish drugmaker AstraZeneca for its coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) vaccine. AstraZeneca is the second vaccine maker to get the greenlight to supply the country with a Covid injection. FDA Director General Rolando Enrique Domingo said during a briefing on Thursday that the firm’s AZD1222 vaccine had a 70-percent efficacy rate after the first dose in phase three clinical trials. Domingo said the AZD1222’s efficacy rate will increase when the second dose is administered, and the FDA recommended a standard dosage of 0.5 milliliter given from four to 12 weeks. The side effects are at par with common vaccine reactions, he said. Domingo said only patients over 18 years old can receive AZD1222 shots, and pregnant women must consult first with their doctors if they can be given the vaccine. With the EUA, AstraZeneca can now supply its vaccine to the Department of Health (DoH) and other designated end-users such as local government units, public and private hospitals, and DoH partners, Domingo said.

READ: Some areas to revert to stricter quarantine

Some areas in modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) will return to the stricter general community quarantine (GCQ) starting February 1, Malacañang said on Thursday. Palace spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) was due to meet on Thursday to discuss new quarantine classifications for Metro Manila and nearby provinces. Roque said the IATF recommendation will then be presented to President Rodrigo Duterte, who will make the new quarantine rules official.

READ: PH backs regional bloc on denuclearization

THE Philippines is one with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) in seeking a peaceful solution in the pursuit of denuclearizing the Korean peninsula, Philippine Ambassador to China Jose Santiago "Chito" Sta. Romana said, stressing that this would help stabilize the Asia-Pacific region. Sta. Romana told The Manila Times that "maintaining a peaceful and stable situation in the Korean Peninsula is an important pillar in preserving peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region, including Southeast Asia."

READ: Vaccines still Filipinos’ top concern – study

Media coverage of the Covid-19 pandemic shows that a safe and efficient vaccine is the main concern of Filipinos, who had endured the longest quarantine in Southeast Asia. In its study of coronavirus coverage across Southeast Asia, media intelligence and insights firm Isentia found that most of the attention was focused on the vaccine made by Pfizer and BioNTech, mainly because of its 90-percent efficacy. Isentia said the high efficacy rate gained wide coverage in digital journalism across six markets in the Southeast Asian region and made Pfizer the number one topic in terms of publication volume in Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, and the Philippines.

READ: Top intel chief axed for social media blunder

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Thursday announced the relief of the military's top intelligence official for placing the armed service in a bad light following the release of a dubious list of state university alumni who were tagged as either captured or killed in anti-insurgency operations. He said the lapses committed by Maj. Gen. Alex Luna, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) deputy chief of staff for intelligence, were "unforgivable."

BUSINESS: PH economy sinks to record low in 2020

Topping business, the contraction of the Philippine economy eased to 8.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2020, bringing the year-to-date decline to 9.5 percent, the lowest recorded since 1946, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported on Thursday. In a briefing, National Statistician Claire Dennis Mapa said the gross domestic product in the fourth quarter was a slowdown compared to the 11.4 percent decline in the third quarter of 2020 but a reversal from the 6.7 percent in the same quarter of 2019. The full-year result was also a turnaround from the 6.0 percent expansion in 2019. It settled within the government's -8.5 to -9.5 percent downwardly adjusted projection of the government.

SPORTS: Tobias Harris lifts 76ers past Lakers, 107-106

Over to sports, in the NBA, Tobias Harris made a jumper with 3 seconds left, ending the Lakers’ 13-0 run and sending the Philadelphia 76ers to a 107-106 victory over Los Angeles on Wednesday night (Thursday in Manila). Kentavious Caldwell-Pope hit a 3-pointer with 1:05 left that pulled the Lakers to 105-104. LeBron James hit Anthony Davis for the go-ahead basket with 11.2 seconds to go for a 106-105 lead and cap that run. Harris scored 24 points. Joel Embiid had 28 and Ben Simmons had 17 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists. James scored 34 points, and Davis had 23. Embiid appeared to have hurt his back when he was knocked down by James.

Opinion and editorial

Van Ybiernas and Stephen CuUnjieng are today’s front page columnists. Ybiernas believes the legacy of the University of the Philippines must never be perverted, while CuUnjieng discusses the reaction to his column last week, as well as recalling memories from the past.

Today’s editorial believes reality has caught up to contact tracing czar and Baguio City mayor Benjamin Magalong, Jr., after he was seen in a party of a celebrity. Read the full version on the paper's Opinion Section or listen to the Voice of The Times.

READ: Times hosts 4th Campus Press awards

THE Manila Times holds its fourth Campus Press Awards today, January 28, as it recognizes 20 aspiring high school and college student-journalists. The Times and The Manila Times College (TMTC) will hand out the awards to the winners in 11 categories. Secretary Ricardo Saludo, managing director for the Center for Strategy Enterprise and Intelligence (CenSEI), and Times’ columnist; and TV-5 reporter and TMTC alumna Faith del Mundo will be the speakers in ceremonies that will be conducted for the first time through video conferencing as a precaution amid the coronavirus pandemic. The ceremony begins at 3 p.m. and will be streamed live on the Times’ Facebook page, YouTube and Daily Motion channels and on www.manilatimes.net. See you there.

 

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With Dafort Villaseran, this is Aric John Sy Cua reporting. May you have a safe day ahead.